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Just because the summer heat has arrived doesn’t mean that it is time to stop enjoying mate. Whether you prefer organic, foreign, smooth, cooperative or strong, this list will help you find the right yerba for you.
Kraus Orgánica Mate
Like all types of farming, the yerba industry has its fair share of organic options. With its USDA Organic approval stamp, Kraus Orgánica is among the most popular organic yerbas. Kraus has been a family business since 1894 and because of its organic, kosher and fair trade standards, this yerba can only be found in specialty health shops, of which there are many in Buenos Aires.
The Kraus yerba farm is located in San Ignacio, Misiones, Argentina. The company prides itself on its “green” farming practices; they do not use any herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers in the production process.
“We work within the system that nature has provided us,” owner Milton Kraus says.
The company also supports biodiversity by replanting native trees to the area. In spring and summer the yerba is harvested with the company’s machinery and in autumn and winter they harvest by hand.
This mate has a clean taste with a very slight hint of lemon. The only complaint is that the cycle is short and the yerba needs to be changed too frequently.
If you think Argentines drink a lot of mate, wait til you see what goes in Uruguay. Whether they are riding a motorcycle or going to the bathroom, Uruguayans have a tight bond with the herbal tea and always seem to have a thermos under their arm.
It is no surprise, then, that one of the most popular yerba producers is a Uruguayan company: Canarias. Started in 1951 in the city of Pando, Canarias is named after the Canary Islands to pay tribute to the birthplace of the founder’s parents.
Their vision is “to be recognised as the most prestigious company in Uruguay.” Through their devotion to “creating products that help improve consumers’ quality of life,” they are doing just that. Canarias boasts the benefits of yerba mate on the company website: cardiovascular health, age prevention, source of energy and digestion aid, among others.
There are seven different types of Canarias yerba ranging from tradicional (bitter and strong) to serena (herbal).
While Argentina may be the largest yerba producer, there is something to be said about Uruguay’s mate tradition. “In Uruguay, mate is a symbol of our identity,” Canarias website says. Canarias is a bit harder to find than local brands in Buenos Aires, but Coto supermarkets usually have it in stock.
When looking for a smoother, less intense and bitter taste, have a try of Union Suave. This yerba is known for its mild, smooth taste and also comes in orange, peach and apple flavours.
Union Suave is produced in the north of the Corrientes province by a company called Las Marias. Started in 1924 with a family love of plants, Las Marias has grown to be the largest producer of yerba mate in the world. Known primarily for their first product, Taragui, Las Marias produces five products in total, Union Suave being their most mellow.
The company’s founders and their help live on the yerba farm’s property in Corrientes. They have built an entire neighborhood including a school with more than 500 students, a hospital, and a sports club. They offer visits to the yerba farm and tours of their production process for those who are interested.
Las Marias exports to more than 40 countries worldwide and is very easy to find at most supermarkets in Buenos Aires.
For those who are looking for an extremely mellow green tea taste without the strong herbal flavor of mate, Playadito is the yerba for you. Grown in Colonia Liebig, Corrientes, Playadito is produced by a cooperative. Started by a group of German, Ukranian and Polish immigrants over 80 years ago, the cooperative now has more than 140 workers producing honey, livestock and yerba.
If you are a first time mate drinker or have been turned off by the intense taste of yerba, the light Playadito is a good way to ease you in. The cooperative makes several kinds of yerbas in addition to their traditional Playadito including a tereré (to be drank cold) and a mate cocido (comes in the form of a tea bag).
Playadito also sells mate gourds, bombillas and termos in their signature colour: yellow. Visit http://www.cooperativaliebig.com.ar/ for purchasing details.
Whether you are a seasoned mate drinker or are willing to dive head first into the land of “fuerte” mate, Amanda delivers a strong, bold taste that will stir both your brain and your taste buds.
This family-founded company (La Cachuera S.A.) from Misiones may have the strongest taste in the business but they are making their yerba one of the most accessible. While mate is usually enjoyed in a home or public space, Amanda has created “mate bars” throughout Buenos Aires city and province where people can go to enjoy Amanda yerba mate in a bar scene. Check their website for a list of locations: http://www.yerbamanda.com.ar/en/matebar.php
La Cachuera S.A. opened a museum in 1997 that pays tribute to the founder, Juan Szychowski and has been declared a point of tourism interest in Misiones province.
Amanda offers a flavoured yerba in lemon and orange as well as their most popular traditional brand. They also have a yerba that is produced without stems and another one that is mixed with herbs such as peppermint, pennyroyal, incayuyo, linden, boldo, mint and lemon vervain.